“The Santa Shuffle is the start of the Christmas season for me,” says Bob McLeod, member, Calgary's Glenmore Temple. “I have run in it for the past 12 years in Calgary and more recently, my daughter has run with me. The Santa Shuffle is a great avenue for The Salvation Army to spread its name while also raising funds for Christmas.”

This year marked The Salvation Army's 21st annual Santa Shuffle, a five-kilometre Fun Run and one-kilometre Elf Walk, held to raise money as part of the Army's Christmas campaigns. McLeod, who participated in the five-kilometre run in Calgary on Saturday, December 3, was one of more than 9,300 other Canadians in 39 cities from St. John's to Victoria.

“As in the past three years, I put together a team from Glenmore Temple,” says McLeod. “There were 10 of us who either walked or ran, ranging in age from 12 to 60. Putting a team together allows me to enjoy the company of other people from my church and affords me the opportunity to talk to people about the work of The Salvation Army when I talk about running the Santa Shuffle.”

The Salvation Army partnered with Running Room Ltd. and All Weather Windows in the family-friendly, festive fundraiser. Initial figures indicated more than $425,000 was raised across the country—an increase on previous year's events. Proceeds from the event will help restore hope and dignity to men, women and children in crisis, feed and provide shelter for the homeless and help make Christmas a possibility for those in need.

McLeod's work in the police force for 30 years and, more recently, part-time at the Running Room has opened his eyes to the importance of the annual Christmas event.

“I see people coming in to the Running Room and talking about the Santa Shuffle who otherwise might not know about the Army's work,” says McLeod. “Through my work as a police officer, I also constantly see people who require the assistance of The Salvation Army. The Santa Shuffle provides a place for people to come together and participate in a fun way that helps those in need.”

Commissioner Brian Peddle, territorial commander, was among the Santa Shuffle crowd in Toronto on the weekend. Thanks to the support of the territory, he collected more than $2,500 in sponsorship for his participation in the five-kilometre route.

Meanwhile, 350 people braved the cold, -12 degree Celsius temperatures at The Forks in Winnipeg.

“I am really pleased with this year's Santa Shuffle,” comments Tsungai Muvingi, special events coordinator for public relations and development, Prairie Division. “It was my first shuffle and I was impressed by the number of people who participated, the support from the Running Room and All Weather Windows' participation as our sponsor.”

Muvingi notes that although the weather was extremely cold, it didn't deter many people and in fact, increased their enthusiasm.

“Everyone was constantly in motion and anything that kept them warm seemed to make them smile,” she continues. “There was so much cheering it was hard to believe everyone was standing outside in the cold. I guess as Winnipeggers we love the challenge that the cold brings. We can proudly say we ran in -12 degrees.”

Through annual events such as the Santa Shuffle, combined with the Christmas kettle campaign, The Salvation Army provides direct, compassionate, hands-on service to more than 1.7 million people in Canada each year, restoring hope and dignity to the most vulnerable in society.

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